Erb-Duchenne and Dejerine-Klumpke Palsies
What are Erb-Duchenne and Dejerine-Klumpke Palsies?
The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that conducts signals from the spine to the shoulder, arm, and hand. Brachial plexus injuries are caused by damage to those nerves. Erb-Duchenne (Erb's) palsy refers to paralysis of the upper brachial plexus. Dejerine-Klumpke (Klumpke's) palsy refers to paralysis of the lower brachial plexus. Although injuries can occur at any time, many brachial plexus injuries happen when a baby's shoulders become impacted during delivery and the brachial plexus nerves stretch or tear. There are four types of brachial plexus injuries: avulsion, the most severe type, in which the nerve is torn from the spine; rupture, in which the nerve is torn but not at the spinal attachment; neuroma, in which the nerve has torn and healed but scar tissue puts pressure on the injured nerve and prevents it from conducting signals to the muscles; and neuropraxia or stretch, in which the nerve has been damaged but not torn. Neuropraxia is the most common type of brachial plexus injury. Symptoms of brachial plexus injury may include a limp or paralyzed arm; lack of muscle control in the arm, hand, or wrist, and lack of feeling or sensation in the arm or hand.
Is there any treatment?
Some brachial plexus injuries may heal without treatment. Many children who are injured during birth improve or recover by 3 to 4 months of age. Treatment for brachial plexus injuries includes physical therapy and, in some cases, surgery.
What is the prognosis?
The site and type of brachial plexus injury determines the prognosis. For avulsion and rupture injuries, there is no potential for recovery unless surgical reconnection is made in a timely manner. The potential for recovery varies for neuroma and neuropraxia injuries. Most individuals with neuropraxia injuries recover spontaneously with a 90-100% return of function.
What research is being done?
The NINDS conducts and supports research on injuries to the nervous system such as brachial plexus injuries. Much of this research is aimed at finding ways to prevent and treat these disorders.
United Brachial Plexus Network
1610 Kent Street
Kent, OH 44240
National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC)
8201 Corporate Drive, Suite 600
Landover, MD 20785
Tel: 301.459.5900/301.459.5984 (TTY) 800.346.2742
March of Dimes
1275 Mamaroneck Avenue
White Plains, NY 10605
Tel: 914.997.4488 888.MODIMES (663.4637)
National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)
P.O. Box 1968
(55 Kenosia Avenue)
Danbury, CT 06813-1968
Tel: 203.744.0100 Voice Mail 800.999.NORD (6673)
Source: National Institutes of Health; National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 5/6/2010...#6014